Tuesday 10 December 2019

Labour needs a clean slate and a new strategy

Eamon Gilmore: under pressure. Photo: Collins
Eamon Gilmore: under pressure. Photo: Collins

* Time for Labour to decide whether it wants to survive – or disappear. The Cheshire cat. Not with a grin, nor a bang, but with a whimper and an apologetic grimace, pathetically shovelling blame elsewhere.

We have the electoral figures. No more speculation nor wishful thinking. A three-party political landscape and Labour deleted from most of it. A de facto irrelevance in the struggle for the socio-economic future of our country and people.

A battle badly lost but a long, hard war still winnable.

Not just Eamon Gilmore but the entire front bench of Labour should offer its resignation to the parliamentary party at its next meeting. To clear the top of the desk. To facilitate a new leadership in reconstructing the party's strategy.

Hysteria? Panic? On the contrary. What is done should be done with the coolest of heads and from a position of realistic strategic vision. But with absolute transparency.

Politics (like all forms of serious contest) can be very harsh – and grossly 'unfair'. But this is a war of life or death.

This is not about the future of one transient political organisation, nor the individual political careers of two-thirds of the parliamentary party.

What is at stake is the future of constitutional Irish social democracy, the ideals and aspirations of the Irish national movement through not just hundreds but thousands of years. A healthy and viable socio-economic recovery. Social justice and true democracy for all citizens.

Labour has been caught supporting a Government, the sheer practical ability of whose leading figures ranges from the adequately competent to the lethally and ludicrously incompetent. Whose commitment to social inequity and the denial of solidarity is beyond doubt. Our masters, the voters, (not Kenny as he promised) have handed out the report cards and Labour is in the sin-bin.

Clearly Labour should not lose totally the long experience of all of its leading figures. However, retirement, voluntary or otherwise, will take many of them at the next general election. Time to hand over the baton to new hands.

In real-life contemporary politics, the 'message' sent (and securely received) is crucial.

As the detail of Sinn Fein's successes show, it has skipped the hurdle of 'record' and 'personality' and can rely in many cases simply on 'brand'. Loyalty to principle is essential and a 'brand' is meaningless without it, but Labour's 'brand' has disappeared. Or is too obviously borrowed from an alien party.




* On the dawn of the new millennium, the Anglo Irish Agreement was made among the people from both sides of this island. In essence, it sought to put aside its past sorrowful history.

For the most part, the agreement has held together and grown naturally with the new generation.

Sinn Fein is today part of that new generation that is also not going to go away, as all of the mainstream political parties would otherwise wish, along with more than a few Independents.

What brought it all together in the end was and is the new-generation electorate. It is also symptomatic of healthy outrage seeded in political awareness that has been lacking.




* Readers who bypass the Irish Independent's Saturday 'Weekend Review' section are missing out on one of Ireland's most informative and astute columnists.

I am referring to Liam Fay, whose back-page column is my first read on a Saturday morning.

This past weekend (May 24), he rightly castigated Joe Brolly for his ill-judged remarks about Sky presenter Rachel Wyse.

Regrettably, though, he dismissed sport as being "grotesquely romanticised". That remark may have some grain of truth, but on the other hand it is also true that sport offers young people an outlet where they learn discipline, structure, and, perhaps more importantly, they learn how to win and lose with dignity.




* What breathtaking arrogance displayed by Labour's Pat Rabbitte. Commenting on the obliteration of his party and its candidates, Mr Rabbitte opined that as a private citizen he was happy. Apparently, in Mr Rabbitte's mind, we are lucky that this didn't happen at the last general election. "What kind of country would we have now?" he whined.

I would assume an infinitely better nation. The electorate is to be commended for sweeping out Ireland's supposed answer to working-class concerns and values.

The people have spoken, Mr Rabbitte. Don't worry about the last general election, look at the next one coming down the line like a wrecking train for Labour.




* The courts in Sudan have confirmed the death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim after she refused to renounce her Christian faith. Mrs Ibrahim, a medical doctor, is pregnant and is in jail under poor conditions with her young son.

The people of Ireland can help bring pressure on the Sudanese government to reverse this decision by writing to their embassy in London at 3 Cleveland Row, St James's, London SW1A 1DD, or emailing info@Sudanembassy.org.uk.

Alternatively, they may use the form letter on the Christian Solidarity Worldwide website at: http://www.csw.org.uk/savemeriam.






* Regarding Aonghus McAnally on Saturday night speaking about his late father, the actor Ray, it brought back memories when he mentioned his father's part in the film 'Shake Hands With The Devil', which was filmed at Ardmore Studios in Bray.

Aonghus spoke of his father bringing legendary actor James Cagney to their house in Artane.

It brings back memories because, during the making of the film, I was employed as a messenger boy at Creation House on Grafton Street. Cagney was invited to appear at a fashion show being held there. I was detailed to go home and get cleaned up and to come back in a suit, to serve drinks and clean up.

I was so excited telling my mother about who I was going to meet and I dashed up the stairs to get dressed. My mother very quietly said, 'you can take your time, because your one and only suit is in the pawn, and so are all your brothers' as well'.

Gone was my one chance to meet the greatest gangster actor in the world. I sat there on the stairs feeling like I was in prison, just like my suit was in Brereton's Pawn Office prison on Capel Street.

Her last few words to stop me from crying were, 'don't get so upset, remember disappointments are sometimes lucky'.

Arriving into work next morning and meeting the other messenger, he said Cagney never turned up, and the lousy crowd that did never gave him a bob. I silently said a sincere 'thank you, mam'.

That's as far as I came to meeting Cagney – anyhow, they tell me Hollywood is not all it's cracked up to be!



Irish Independent

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